When I sat down to think about this, I knew the answer right away but it was interesting to realize I’m not really a huge fan of any of the racial cities. I don’t mind Silvermoon but it’s out in the middle of nowhere and I could barely tell you where the bank is. I spent more time in there doing For The Alliance than I did as a Blood Elf. Thunder Bluff is about the only one on the Horde side that I would consider “nice” otherwise. The Alliance side pretty much starts and ends with Ironforge. Dalaran has the best story. I mean the mages actually moved their city to hover in the sky. That’s pretty impressive. But in this case, impressive is bested by tragedy.
Let’s face it, the old human kingdom suffered a lot. Lordaeron is now dormant on the surface, and the Forsaken ruling the tunnels (sewers?) below. Stratholme’s story is well documented. In fact, thanks to my favourite Caverns of Time instance, you can experience that history firsthand. You get to join up with Arthas and essentially help him burn the city to the ground.
The tragedy of Stratholme is, of course, a key point during Arthas’ descent into becoming the Lich King. Knowing that the grain was plagued, it’s hard to say whether he was actually in the wrong in his actions. Logic tells us he was, but it is most certainly open for interpretation. What cannot be done for Stratholme, is change. It burned…and still burns.
When the players were introduced to Stratholme, the city was one of the larger dungeons because it was essentially two dungeons in one. One half of the city was run by the Scourge, while the nutbars in the Scarlet Crusade had the other side. Though, the SC was actually being run by a dread lord in disguise. That revelation was always fun when you took a player in there for the first time.
These days it’s fun, but it doesn’t have quite the same feel that it did pre-Cataclysm. The dungeon is now two separate instances instead of one whole place, though instead of the Scarlet Crusade you get their undead versions. The otherside is still Scourge heavy. I think if you kill the leader on each side there’s actually a scenario of the Argent Dawn coming in to clean up the place. Oh, the city still burns just fine, but for whatever reason it doesn’t have the same feel that it used to. Perhaps the CoT version stole the thunder or perhaps it’s the division into two completely separate instances.
Even if it isn’t what it once was, it is still one of the best places to venture through and in terms of cities it probably does have the most tragic of tales. It’s been key to the stories of Arthas, Jaina, Tirion, Etrigg, and more. It’s a true cog in the Warcraft lore and that’s why it tops the list for me…despite the fact the Baron (and now his son) never gave up the damn horse for me.